Last year we saw the release of the NES mini; a plug and play console that contained 30 games that were perfectly emulated and had that Nintendo ‘magic’; that je ne c’est quoi that make people lose their minds and “have” to own it.
What happened will go down in legend, like the Buzz Lightyear farce of ’93, Nintendo completely underestimated demand and the thing sold out as it touched down on shop floors leading to extreme stock shortages. It caused out-roar on the internet as people struggled to secure their console and those who were interested in it (including me) could never hope to acquire one without giving in the outrageous prices scalpers were asking. Hell, I have never seen one in person!
Nintendo came out after the fiasco and stated that the mini was discontinued and was always meant to be a limited run thing to keep them ticking over until the Switch launched. People were angry and rightfully so. Right now, a NES Mini will set you back a solid £200 odd absolutely everywhere. There is no hope for anyone picking up one at a reasonable price and there is no-one to blame for this but Nintendo…
…the whole thing reaffirmed the two schools of thought on Nintendo that have been around since the virtual boy:
- that Nintendo are purposefully under supplying hardware to stores to drive up demand and create free marketing for their products.
- That Nintendo are idiots who have no idea on how to do market research and produce ‘enough’ for the demand that is already there.
Nintendo fans had hoped that the NES Mini episode would have sobered Nintendo and woken them up to the demand for legacy titles; with the announcement of the Mini Classic SNES console however it seems that, not only, have Nintendo not learned but they have made their own situation much worse.
When the SNES Mini was announced last Monday, I was hugely excited, the machine looks amazing and the list of games is good, with most titles that the casual audience will want and some for the hardcore gamers and Nintendo fans. Within an hour of the announcement pre-orders (somehow) sold out everywhere; within two hours’ pre-order listings appeared on eBay for between £120 and £250 – and even though these are breaking the terms and conditions of eBay they are still freely available in huge quantities at the time of writing. This thing isn’t out for 3 months and its “sold out” and being scalped at ridiculous prices and what is Nintendo doing? The same thing they did last year; NOTHING! They enable this behaviour and then do nothing to nip it in the bud. It’s as if they manufacture this type of situation.
And once again I find myself in the situation where I want the SNES Mini but I will not pay scalpers – Nintendo have once again, the second time in little under a year, shunned their audience and given scalpers free reign to take advantage of Nintendo fans and take them for everything they are worth. I’ll probably never see on in real life.
This tradition goes back years now – Nintendo did it with Amiibo, they did it with the GameCube controllers and adaptors for WiiU, the circle pad pro, the expansion pack for N64, the component cable for GameCube, the lack of a charger with N3DS’ and on and on and on. If any other manufacturer did this with half the regularity of Nintendo they would be universally hated – but we’ll still have people defend this bullshit practice because “that’s what Nintendo do…” – it’s bullshit.
They have these tendencies which go far beyond real or fabricated shortages and can be best described as anti-consumer and they seem to get a free pass on it. Their witch hunt and unfair “creator partnership program” for YouTubers and livestreamers alienates creators, fans and eliminates free advertising, it’s a move that still infuriates gamers and still makes no sense whatsoever.
Then we have their insistence on making their hardware region locked when the competition haven’t done so in 2 or 3 generations, their reluctance to put in a hard-drive into their hardware which pushes more cost onto the consumer and their “premium” price on hardware and software which seldom (if ever) sees a reduction on cost. These moves benefit no-one but Nintendo and yet the market at large applauds them for “forging their own path” and “not conforming with industry standards”; Nintendo seemingly get a free pass where other companies would be (correctly) pilloried for.
Hey, as long as they continue to make Zelda and Mario…right?
Nintendo is the company that never grew up and while I do love their handhelds and appreciate all the great games they have put into the industry; the bullshit that they constantly pull on the consumer is just unacceptable. Nintendo must realise that they are directly encouraging the side of the market they actively and publicly hate – the black market and abuse of their games and IPs.
They have fought a campaign against one aspect of this market in recent years; unfortunately for them though, they have targeted the wrong groups time and time again. They should be encouraging people to live stream and create YouTube videos about their games and yet they dissuade this practice, they could allow some small not-for-profit, fan-made, unofficial game releases yet they slap them with C&D orders. While those who profit off their fans, grossly inflating prices while actively causing shortages; do so unhindered.
Until Nintendo do something to curb this behaviour they will have lost my respect – and possibly my money too…
…and I kinda really want a Switch!
What do you think of Nintendo’s constant hardware shortages?
Tell me in the comments/Facebook/Twitter!